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The "Problem" with Millennials

The problem with millennials. They are too this or too that. Just mention the word, millennial, tomillenials a bunch of 50 and 60 somethings in a workplace setting and you'll get chuckles, nods of agreement and universal disapproval. They will share stories and joke about how they never answer the phone, or how they never show up to the office, or how they are always whining about something or glued to their iPhone. It seems like one of the baby boomer's favorite topics of conversation. The funny thing is that this way of relating to the younger generation is nothing new. It's the same old collegial agreement that's given people of a similar age something to agree on and banter about for ages, how younger, less experienced people just don't get "it."

The generation that preceded the baby boomers leveled similar complaints about the baby boomer generation

The problem, especially as a business leader, isn't with the millennials.

The problem with millennials is that those in the boomer generation typically start from that place, that there is a problem with them. From their assumption, it's assumed that there is a problem with the millennial generation because they aren't doing what they think they should, or the way they think they should.

I can't stand all of the judgments and caterwauling over millennials. 

As a business leader, it's never really the appropriate question to be asking:

The question: What's wrong with them? Why are they acting that way?

As a leader, the question is, what's great about this person, or this team and how do I call that forth. How can I improve to create the results or get the best out of them.

The irony is that, in the 1960's and 1970's, when boomers were growing up and entering the workforce, decades that can be characterized as a mass evolution in the consciousness and intelligence of the United States, the boomer's parents generation were making similar judgments. While the boomer's catalyzed a mass evolution of the country, the boomer's parents were standing in judgment asking, what's their problem, what is this about their own rules, new ideas and lack of principles?

What they should have been asking is, what can we learn from them? What are they seeing and experiencing that I am not?

It's the same question that boomers need to be asking of millennials today. Instead of standing in judgment about what's different, you might seek to understand their perspective.

Boomers might learn something. And, if the boomer lets down the judgment, they just might have an opening to impart that incredible wisdom that us millennials so yearn for.

And, by the way, Millennials are forcing change in every area of life. They are the drivers behind innovation in everything from automobiles, to banking, to dating, to family systems, to social issues. They won't stand for doing work that sucks, they watched their parents do that their whole life. While admirable, I'm sure that if you give your child one gift, it would be to find work they love. Is that such a radical idea?

The most common complaint I here is about millennials lack of commitment and hard work on the job. It's true, some young people are naive about what it takes to succeed in the "real world," but that's been true since the beginning of human beings. Just check the story of "Adam and Eve."

As a leader to millennials (or any other human being on the planet), you will get no where as long as you stand in judgment of how they are.

Your job is to understand how to reach them, challenge them, mentor them.

But that starts, like it always has with human beings, by relating to them as their greatness, relating to them as what makes them special, not placing them in a "basket of deplorables."

The Three Phases of Life

My daughter, Gabriella Mary Ann, was born October 2nd, 2016. I turn 35 on October 23rd, 2016. I'm entering that middle phase of my life. The part of life where my potential is now. The part of life where it's truly my turn. I am in that sweet, yet somewhat pressured spot, where I'm about to live my life.

It's the time where the real action of my career is going to happen. The gift for me is knowing that it's game time. It's time for me to actualize all that I've accumulated, learned and absorbed in the first phase of my life.

I think there are three phases of a great life and it's really important to know which phase you are in, so you can make the most of it, the most of who you are and what you are here for.

I'm in the second phase, I'd call it the execution phase which starts somewhere after the first quarter of your life, say 28-40. The first phase is the learning and growing phase, starting with birth and ending between 28-40, which prepares you step into the execution phase. The third phase is about wisdom, sharing it, spreading it and enjoying the things that really matter, thanks to your wisdom.

I love this framework for life, because it allows us the opportunity to settle into the natural rhythms of the human experience:

birth--life--death

Could also be coined:

creation--expression--transition

I encourage you to allow yourself to embrace the phase that you are in. For years, while I was in my learning phase, I was always anxious that I wasn't doing enough, hadn't accomplished enough. So much so, that I didn't get to enjoy the learning phase.

As I step into the execution phase, it's a huge gift to know, NOW IS THE TIME. The future is NOW. My potential is NOW

When it's time to step into the wisdom phase, I pray that I will let myself and the things I have done be enough, so that I can work to share that wisdom with others, delight in the precious life I've created and allow love to be the ruler of my days.

Baseball and Business, Vignette #2

Clayton Kershaw

For those that don't know him, he is the absolute best pitcher on the planet. And, that is not an opinion. At age 28, he has won three Cy Young awards, given to the best pitcher in each league, leads the league in strikeouts, era, complete games. Basically, he is the best of the best.

So often in life we admire leaders and high performers and think, wow, they are just so talented. It must be in their genes. It's not our fault, after all, we didn't notice Clayton Kershaw when he was 16 years old, eating, sleeping and drinking baseball. We didn't notice Steve Jobs when he was sitting in his parent's garage in Palo Alto, California trying to make something.

We noticed them after they arrived and after they put in their 10,000 hours.

The thing that is fascinating about Clayton Kershaw, and that is most important to learn from his example, is that the best of the best, don't just rely on talent and charisma once they get there.

We see Clayton Kershaw pitch every fifth day, for 4 months in the summer, what we don't see is that he has planned out every other aspect of time he is not pitching. His entire life is oriented around being an excellent pitcher for two hours, every fifth day. To see some of the insanity of his routine, check out this article from ESPN.com.

The learning is, in Baseball or in Business, it's not an accident that you show up and perform well. Great business leaders and high performing athletes, have created a habit of giving themselves exactly what they need in order to show up at their highest and best self to perform their job.

For some people, like Clayton Kershaw, it's a strict 5 day cycle of routine when he's pitching down to the shorts he wears on game day. For Steve Jobs, it's things like wearing the same black turtleneck and blue jeans so he no longer had to spend energy on deciding what to wear.

For me, it's often getting my favorite coffee in the morning, walking my dog and listening to an inspiring podcast.

What is it for you? What are the habits or routines that would have you showing up at peak purpose and effectiveness when it matters?

Baseball and Business Vignettes

Watching baseball in October is a ritual amongst me, my brothers and good friends. Typically it's watching my St Louis Cardinals in October. This year, they aren't in, so I'm left rooting very passionately against the Cubs and writing about baseball. While baseball is on the mind, it reminds me of some of the great metaphors and analogies that we can use from baseball to apply to business. Stay posted for some more Baseball vignettes throughout October.

The Professional Hitter's Approach

What makes a professional hitter is their ability to maintain a consistent, habitual approach to hitting. The best hitters are excellent at bringing the same disciplined approach day in, and day out, regardless of the slump they might be in, regardless of how they feel, the sleep they got, the weather, or the umpire.

The amateur hitter reacts too soon and too wildly, pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, game to game, week to week.

The very best of the best in the big leagues, keep the same approach, but also learn to make minor adjustments. They aren't rigid, but they also don't sway wildly. They respond to their environment in a measured way, anchored in their approach in order to continue the success they are committed to.

Business leaders should approach their craft in the same fashion, with a steady, disciplined approach, not swaying too wildly in reaction to their fears, negative news or short term challenges.

Your Boss is an Asshole

Yep, I said it. It's true. Your boss is an asshole. He's always micro-managing you, never gives you positive reinforcement, only points out what you did wrong. You do a million great things and the one thing that you miss, that isn't even a big deal, your boss is all over you.

He can't even leave you alone when you're on vacation, or worse, he makes you feel guilty for even taking any time off.

She's always setting impossible standards that you can never attain. It seems like no matter what you do, it will never be good enough.

Your Boss is an Asshole!

Now, I'm not talking about your boss in the classic sense, like your supervisor or senior leader or investors.

I'm talking about YOU and what kind of boss you are to yourself.

How ever bad your boss is, you are at least ten times meaner, harsher, more critical and demanding than he or she could ever be. If you were your actual boss, you would be fired or put in jail for workplace abuse.

In fact, the level to which you hate your actual boss, is most likely a reflection of the misdirected anger and hatred you have toward yourself.

So, I invite you to ask yourself:

What kind of boss am I to myself?

And in today's age, we are all our own boss.

I remember the day I realized how much of an asshole of a boss I was to myself. It was December 21st, 2012, 1:30 in the afternoon at my home office in St Louis. This was the last day before a little Christmas holiday and I sat there at my desk, frustrated and scared, staring blankly at my computer screen.

I was burnt out, tired and beating the absolute shit out of myself, trying to make myself do something productive. I would not let myself quit working until I got to some arbitrary time of the day where I felt like I had suffered the appropriate amount of time.

When I'm in that state, frustrated, hopeless, exhausted; there is virtually nothing productive that is going to come out of it. Especially for someone in business of people and leadership.

I realized for the first time, that I was my own boss, and my boss was forcing me to sit there and suffer when most people were taking Friday afternoon off to start the holiday early. Did I quit my job for this? Did I become my own boss, just to be a worse, more demanding, more insensitive boss? Heck No!

I decided in that moment to step away from the computer. A good boss would tell me to take the afternoon off, give yourself a break today and get started on your holiday break.

I went and did something completely frivolous with my time: I went to an afternoon movie, which I never do. I watched Lincoln at the Chase Park Plaza in the Central West End of St Louis, sitting behind a group of nuns at the movie theatre.

It was awesome and generous and empowering to myself. I took that new way of being with myself into the new year and my business began to take off. The better boss I've been to myself, the more results I've produced and the happier I become. The better boss I am, the better friend, husband and father I am.

So, let me ask you this.

What kind of boss are you to yourself? If you were being that kind of boss to someone else, how do you think they would perform? How long before they would quit that kind of boss?

This isn't some touchy feely idea about being a teddy bear to yourself. It's absolutely critical that you learn to be a great boss for yourself in order to produce the results you want in life and business.

Start with this.

  1. List out 10-20 qualities you admire in your most favorite leaders or bosses.
  2. List out 10-20 ways that your favorite leaders or bosses demonstrated those qualities.
  3. Create a list of 10-20 actions or habits you will institute with yourself to practice being a better boss to yourself.

 

One last caveat for business leaders. People that follow you, learn way more from your example than from what you say. If you are being a jerk to yourself or setting impossible standards for yourself with no reward, they will think that is what you want them to do to be successful.

And that has a shelf life. They will leave the team, mail it in with their effort, or, at best, give you a roller coaster of effort, then quit.

Please, for your success and theirs, stop being an asshole to yourself.

 

 

 

 

Work/Life Balance... Blah, Blah, Blah

Work/Life Balance is one of the biggest buzz words in the human resources and leadership circles these days, and one that I most often causes me severe cringing when I hear the words. Why do I cringe? Because so often the conversation is so surface level, it doesn't address the systemic root of the problem. And by not addressing the root of the issue, it often leaves people dismissing the very idea of "Work/Life Balance" as some kind of woo-woo, out of touch concept with real leaders, who are up to real things.

Here's what Work/Life Balance is not about. It's not about spending equal times at work and at home. It's not about only working 9-5 and never working on weekends or after hours. It's not about out of office responders or vacation days or holidays.

What it is about, is learning to create a balanced experience of life where your actions at work and at home are driven by your commitment and intentions.

So often, people are driven by their fears at work and at home, rather than honoring who they intend to be at work and in life.

At work, people are constantly living in fear that they haven't done enough. They fear that if they haven't done enough, they will lose their job or lose favor. In order to combat that fear and guilt, they work harder and harder. The deeper the fear, the harder they work, the less balance.

Living with the idea that whatever they do, it is never good enough, there is no amount of working that will be enough. This creates an imbalance at work where the drive for action at work isn't getting the job done, it's about combating the feeling that one isn't doing enough. This creates an endless and exhausting cycle.

At home, similar feelings come up. There is basically no amount of being enough. I've seen this so often with parents who work full time. Of course they are committed to being great parents, but typically, they create perfect ideals about who they would be if they were a perfect parent; And then measure themselves by this unrealistic perfect standard.

The result is that people feel like they aren't good enough at work or at home. They feel like they are losing on both fronts. The best it gets is feeling successful in one area and poor in another area. And, it all ends up feeling like a big juggling act, where the balls could all drop the moment you let your focus and attention slip.

Creating real work/life balance is essential to being a great leader and building winning organizations. However, it's not about surface level issues of time off and email hours, although those can help.

What it's really about is learning to trust yourself and to work at creating a loving and empowering relationship to yourself. Work/Life Balance is about creating a sense of trust and confidence in yourself, focusing on the big picture commitments and letting go of the constant sense of doubt, fears and guilt that you aren't enough.

Choose Your North Star, Don't Let It Choose You

As the CEO of your business, it's important that you choose your North Star. In nautical circles, the North Star was used to navigate the direction of the ship. It informed all of the little decisions that generate a ship's heading.
If you're the captain and you start choosing the ship's direction based on how you feel, or short term discomfort like choppy waters, you're going to head off course. A slight tack off course could mean never reaching your intended destination.
In business, your North Star consists of two things:
1. The purpose for which your business exists. The clearer and more intrinsically inspiring, the better.
2. Your stated tangible goal that is aligned with the fullest expression of that purpose.
As the CEO, it's your job to ensure that you are orienting the direction of your business based on your North Star.
That means making tough decisions to invest or cut costs, it means staying disciplined and focused on your core value proposition, it means taking a steady course even when it's terrifying.
Business get into trouble when it's leaders start making decisions that are focused on addressing short term fears, quick fixes and trying to meet other people's expectations.
Choosing your North Star and orienting all of your decisions around it is key to long term, sustainable success.

The Number One Thing that Excellent Teams Have in Common

All excellent teams, organizations and leaders have this one thing in common. A commitment that is larger and more powerful than their individual feelings or discomfort. It's a set of beliefs and a common purpose that is intrinsically important to the leader, the team and the organization. The more present a person, team or organization is to the highest minded purpose, the more excellent that team will be.

Sometimes it's circumstances or tragedies that bring people around a common purpose, things like the 9/11 terrorist attacks that rallied people, governments and countries around a singular purpose, or perhaps a sick child or crisis in the company.

The best leaders, teams and organizations aren't just excellent when there is a crisis, they build a sustainable, consistent culture of excellence, where people are consistently present to the larger purpose that they and the organization serve.

The Ritz Carlton's level of service is remarkable and consistent because they have created a culture around who they are committed to being for their customers. Leaders from top to bottom work to instill this culture and hire people who are intrinsically committed to these values. They build a team of people who are committed to expressing the highest purpose of its credo.

The Credo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

A leader's primary job is to continue to presence and enroll his or her's team in the primary mission of the individual, team or organization.

Excellence is a culture that gets created when people are aware of and operating from their high minded commitments.

At the Ritz Carlton, their employees aren't just providing high service because they get paid to, they are providing it, and routinely going above and beyond, because they genuinely care about providing the people they serve and extraordinary experience. They genuinely enjoy serving others to enhance their wellbeing, enjoyment and overall experience.

When the purpose of the organization and the purpose of the people in the organization are aligned, there is no better recipe for excellence.

To build a culture of excellence it's a holistic effort from the highest leader to the most junior. It's about creating a common purpose that informs all aspects of the organization's actions.

We Were All Kids Once

We were all kids once, and then we turned into adults. I'm not sure when it is, that we suddenly decide that we are no longer children and that other's are no longer impacted by the way they were raised.

The magic number in America is 18 years old, where you are then awarded the title of adult. Which is pretty funny, because the 18 year olds I've met, are still very much shaped and molded by their childhood experience.

Somewhere along the way, 18 turns into 25, which turns into 34 which turns into 40.

And somewhere along the way, we stop having empathy for where people came from, how they were raised and the life experience that had them see the world the way they do.

It's impossibly naive to believe there is a magic transition that occurs between childhood and adulthood that cures you of the impact of your childhood.

As a leader, it's important to know this about yourself, your followers and your own leaders. The behaviors that you dislike most in others, are typically an affect of some trauma they experienced in their life.

Nobody comes into the world distrusting, defensive, unaware, controlling, abusive, disconnected, dominating or disrespectful.

And, through many years of experience in connecting with people at the deepest levels, hearing their stories and their heartbreaks, the two most valuable things I've learned:

1. The more extreme or out of bounds the behavior is, the more level of pain, trauma or abuse they have experienced... EVERY SINGLE TIME. 2. Whatever the thing is that annoys you about a person, they typically already know this about themselves and beat themselves up for it 10 times harder than you ever could.

So the thing is, we were all kids once and then we got older. We are all still incredibly shaped by our childhood experience. Many people have experienced incredible trauma, and it all manifests in many different ways.

Having an understanding of what shaped the people you work with can give you new ways to access their greatness and effectiveness.

And, it will make you a much better leader.

Family of Origin Dynamics in Business

That's a fancy title for an article, but what we are really talking about is how we bring what we learned in childhood to adulthood, particularly to our business and leader relationships. One of the most fascinating things to me as I've worked with 100's of business leaders, particularly in the context of the business or organization they work for is how most of the places people get frustrated, stuck, scared and angry is due to some historical family dynamic playing out in the workplace.

A few years ago, I was working with a client regarding their frustrations at work. We will call him John. John was a senior leader, one level below the executive team with about 20 direct reports. John was an outstanding leader by the all accounts in the organization. There was nothing wrong with John, he was just looking to be better as a leader and to more fully enjoy his work.

John was particularly upset about his boss. He went on to complain that she was always double checking his work, always "micro-managing" everything he did. He said she never trusts him and that really infuriated him. John felt, if she would just get out of his way, he could be more effective.

As we looked further at how he is in the relationship, we uncovered that he wasn't very good at expressing his emotions, particularly approval and affection. John also noticed that he was pretty intense and could sometimes come off as intimidating. John could see that his way of being in relationship was mostly non-expressive and right about his opinion that people should just trust him.

If you are John's boss, and he doesn't communicate with you, share his concerns or doubts, perhaps you too would be concerned and feel like you need to check up on his work.

For John's part, he could see that this is the same pattern that played out with him and his father. He felt his father was always correcting him and that he could do nothing right. He felt like his father didn't trust him.

John started to see this pattern play out with many of the leaders he had worked with throughout his career. He also saw that by playing out this pattern, it had an impact on his boss. She felt out of the loop and unimportant, which had her checking in on John more than he thought was appropriate.

Many times, in a relationship challenge, it helps to understand where the other person is coming from. When we really get the other person, their life experiences and what makes them who they are, we can have compassion, understanding and tolerance for the other's imperfection.

John shared that his boss had been adopted and that she had lost her father at a young age. Immediately, we could see that someone, having had those life events, may have developed a sense of not being good enough and perhaps a deep sense of fear with relying on other people.

Knowing this, John could see that perhaps she could use a little more reassurance and communication to make both of their experiences of their work partnership more productive and enjoyable.

This is a small example of how family of origin dynamics are constantly playing out in our professional lives. Next time you are having a conflict at work, especially when you are fiercely blaming the other person, I'd encourage you:

  1. Take a step back and consider what you can be responsible for, or how you are responsible for creating the experience you are having.
  2. Ask yourself if this is a familiar pattern or experience with authority figures, co-workers, your parents, your children, etc.
  3. Consider the other person's experience. What shaped them in their life and why they say or do what the thing that irritates to you. Compassion and empathy are the antidote to frustration and blame.

As a final point, remember that people are people. They aren't perfect and typically the person you are irritated with knows what's "not perfect" about them. Chances are they are beating themselves up 10 times harder than you ever could for that.

Rather than playing out dysfunction, let's work together to build healthier people and organizations in service of more joy, effectiveness and fulfillment.

What I Learned from Donald Trump

On July 21st of this year, I was sitting in my hotel room at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida, up late preparing for a big presentation the following day. I remember the exact date, because it was the final night of the Republican National Convention and Donald Trump was giving his nomination acceptance speech. I was giving an important presentation for my business and to an audience I genuinely cared about influencing. I was sharing some somewhat radical ideas about how to improve employee engagement and retention in a centuries old industry. It was straight from my heart and straight from the way I see the world and the people in it.

This wasn't a standard presentation, this was more of a call to action. No hiding behind slides and data. Straight up storytelling and inviting people to see a problem (and the solution) in a completely different light.

Sitting there in my hotel room, rehearsing the opening story, I was nervous, I was scared people wouldn't be receptive to the message, that they wouldn't believe me.

As I was preparing, I got drawn in to the Donald Trump's speech. Not because of the message. DEFINITELY NOT BECAUSE OF THE MESSAGE. But, because of the way he unequivocally believed in what he was saying.

The mere act of trusting fully, the words coming out of your mouth, enhances the power and impact of your message.

What I learned from "The Donald," was the importance of trusting yourself, your creative insight, your message. Like him or not, part of his genius is an unflappable belief in himself and his message.

It's not natural for me to put blind faith in myself, nor is it natural to believe I am right, all the time. And, I don't want to be that way.

But, when I step on that stage, or I'm talking about something I'm passionate about and I believe in, I sure as hell believe that what I have to offer is important.

The thing I got from Donald Trump, was how important it is to gift myself with 100% belief in myself and my message.

So, the next morning, I set the intention, that however the presentation went, I was going to gift myself with believing myself fully, standing in the power of my insight and my message.

And, I crushed it! I changed people's conversations. I changed the way they were thinking about a major challenge in their industry.

As a leader, it's so important to gift yourself the belief in yourself, in your value, in your insight, in your instincts.

And, if you're reading this blog, chances are very high, that you don't have to worry about being Narcissist. You're open to input, but when it's your time to shine, when you are needed, gift yourself trust and belief.

Why I Love Philz Coffee and What Businesses Can Learn From Them

I love Philz Coffee, a small chain in the San Francisco area. I first found Philz when visiting San Francisco in early 2012. My wife and I were in town looking for our future home and went looking for a good cup of coffee.

We had been to a few of the fancier coffee joints in San Francisco, of which, there are many. I like them too, Ritual, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel.

Philz has great coffee, where they brew one cup at a time, in what I believe is some sort of turkish style coffee. They have like 20 plus flavors on the wall, all the locations are warm and cool. Very inviting.

Philz Coffee is absolutely killing it and continuing to expand in the Bay Area. They do have a great product, but more than that, they succeed at creating a great feel and a reliably unique experience.

What we can learn from Philz and other successful businesses is that great businesses understand who they are and why they exist, and they do a great job and fulfilling on the expression of that purpose.

Any sustainable business, has a purpose for it's existence. If it didn't, it wouldn't exist.

The best companies have a strong connection to the reason for their existence. And the ones that last, continue to orient all of their decisions around that central purpose for their existence.

All of the most successful businesses you study in business school are successful because they are fiercely oriented around the purpose for their existence.

Apple, Southwest, Google (Alphabet), Amazon, Novo Nordisk, Four Seasons, Philz Coffee

These companies aren't oriented around short term results. They don't make decisions that aren't aligned with the purpose for their existence.

For example, here's the purpose statement for Southwest Airlines:

"Connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel."

That's why they make jokes and keep costs low and don't charge baggage fees. It may not be expedient in the short term, but it is why Southwest is the most profitable airline in the industry.

For your business, don't ever forget why you exist, what the purpose of your business is. If you want to be successful, thrive, you must orient all of your decisions around expressing the purpose of your business.

 

Blogging Everyday, Day 2

Isn't the second day always the hardest? Maybe it's not the second day, but you know that time, just after you start something, right after the newness and excitement wears off. Just when people stop noticing, stop commenting on it. It's that point when nobody will notice if you stop. I find myself thinking... I don't know what to write today. And, that's where so many of us stop in our pursuit of our own greatness.

We hide behind, "I don't know," when what we are really doing is hiding our creativity, hiding our heart, keeping ourselves from being vulnerable, from setting out on a path, not knowing how it's going to turn out.

What we call, "I don't know," is actually, "I'm scared that I'm not good enough."

I swear, your main job as a leader is to constantly presence yourself and others to one's own greatness. When we are present to who we truly are and the infinite possibility that lives inside of each of us, we will not tolerate getting stopped at "I don't know."

When you practice believing in yourself, "I don't know," becomes nothing more than a thought on the way to expressing your greatness.

Don't stop at "I don't know" and don't buy into other people telling you they don't know.

 

Blogging Everyday

Seth Godin, one of my favorite and most inspiring thought leaders, recommends more than anything, to blog everyday. In fact, it's one of the only pieces of advice he seems willing to give. When asked about his daily routine, he typically replies vehemently with how it doesn't matter, When asked what kind of tools he uses? Same response. He does advocate blogging every single day. Why? Because it's about practicing every single day the art of showing up. The ability to move through your fear or being rejected, of bruising your ego.

And, that is a muscle that you build. When you publish a piece of your art everyday, you honor your creative insight, your creative brilliance.

The bigger that muscle, the more you become who you were meant to be.

And, in my 1,000's of conversations with people about their dreams with poor people, ivy league people, high school dropouts, CEO's and stay-at-home Moms, and everyone in between, we all have a special yearning inside, a special way that we see the world, a special gift we are dying to bring to the world.

Your biggest challenge isn't a gap in your skills, or a gap in your family background, or a gap in your bank account. Your biggest gap is the willingness to practice showing up as You, over and over and over.

 

3 Steps for Dealing with Holiday Overwhelm

Celebrate 2015With just about one week left of 2015, most of us are rushing around finishing last minute holiday shopping, making plans to be at this party and that party, or scurrying to make preparations to host family and friends. Some people say it's a wonderful season and while that may be true, I'm often more present to how overwhelming it can be for me and other people.

The prevailing experience that I come to at this time of year is overwhelm. That's a word we often use, but let's define that experience.

The dictionary offers these definitions:

  1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass
  2. defeat completely
  3. give too much of a thing to (someone)

As a coach, I define overwhelm as the experience of being committed to a number of things and feeling that you don't have enough time/resources to be good enough at the things that you are committed to being good enough at. Kind of liking wanting to win multiple games, but feeling like no matter what you do, you will lose.

It feels like losing at all the things you care about and it's especially present during the holidays. There is never enough time to see all the people you "should" see, not enough time to prepare the meal the way you want to, not enough money to buy the gifts you want to give, not enough money you could spend to get the love and connection you yearn for, not enough you can do at work because you are consumed with all of these other things, not a good enough brother, sister, mother, cousin, and on, and on.

Not to mention of course, as we complete our year, we recount all the things that we didn't do this year, all the things we hoped would happen and hasn't, the resolutions we made that we didn't stay with and the goals we'd hoped for that didn't pan out.

That's the perfect formula for a big ole pile of overwhelm.

And, I don't know about you, but when I'm overwhelmed, all I want to do is check out: drink more, eat more, sleep more, anything to avoid being with the feeling of not being good enough at everything I care about.

So, here are three steps you can take to kick holiday overwhelm in the face and create a launching pad for 2016.

1. Make a list of all the things you think you could have done better in 2015.

Make it an exhaustive list. As many things as you can think of, both tangible and intangible.

Then, I want you read the list out loud and declare to yourself and whatever you believe in that you are willing to forgive yourself for all the things that you could have done better in 2015. Next, I want you to rip that paper to shreds and throw it away, light it on fire or dissolve with an industrial chemical.

LET. IT. GO.

 

2. Make a list of all the things you accomplished in 2015.

I'm talking obvious things (promotions, marriage, babies, raises, quitting your job, etc.) and I'm talking the more obscure things (learned to love yourself more, improved your leadership, made a difference for a friend, gave money to someone who inspired you, forgave someone, etc.)

Your job is to see who you really were this year. To take a real accounting of the great things that you did this year, the great person you were, the growth you had and the ground you took in 2015. It's sort of like your own personal highlight reel for the year. You might be resisting here, but you tell me, are you more likely to have a great end of 2015 and a powerful 2016 if you are relating to your greatness and seeing your accomplishments, or if you are beating yourself up and criticizing yourself?

3. CELEBRATE 2015!

The best piece of advice I could give you to have the best 2016 of your life, is to do step 1 and 2 so diligently that all you are left with is being present to your own greatness. So present in fact, that you are bursting with celebration for the rest of the year. Even if it feels weird, celebrate yourself. Toast yourself and your friends. Enroll them in taking this on with you so all of you are present to the special year that 2015 was for you.

As you celebrate, you will notice that some subtle urgings begin to arise for where you want to be at the end of 2016. Write those little nudges of inspiration down, let your dreams arise and take form as you ring in the new year.

Take on these 3 steps to kick holiday overwhelm out of your space and create a launching pad for an amazing 2016.

This is your year, your time and place. You laid the groundwork in 2015, now is the time to bring all of you to 2016.

Go Get It. Happy New Year! Congratulations on 2015!

 

 

Radio Interview with Pete Saunders on Absent Father Issues

I sat down with Pete Saunders, host of Braveheart Radio and a fellow fatherless son on August 13thto discuss Father Absence issues.

In the interview, I share some of  my personal story and how I have worked to overcome the impacts of growing up with an absent father.

We also discuss what defines an absent father, the top 3 impacts of growing up with an absent father and some steps to take if you are dealing with some of those impacts.

I hope this helps you or someone you know.

Click the link below to access the link to the show.

Braveheart Radio Interview with Pete Saunders

Why Achieving More Won't Always Make You Happy

achievementIn 1990, at age 11, I sold 106 items in a school fundraiser to win a Super Nintendo.

In 1998, at age 17, I joined the Army, at 19, I had been promoted 4 times and by 21 I became one of the youngest in the entire United States Army to be promoted to the rank of E6, Staff Sergeant. Less than four years later, I became one of the youngest drill sergeants in the Army and innovated training methods that one prestigious awards.

Between the ages of 18-27, I ran nine 26.2 mile marathons.

In 2004, I completed a bachelors degree in business and in 2013 I graduate with an MBA.

In 2008, at age 27, I made over a $100,000.

In 2011, I married my best friend and soul mate in a beautiful wedding in Mexico and we bought a beautiful home.

In 2012, I successfully launched my own full time coaching business and have successfully operated for three years.

You might say I have achieved an incredible amount in my life so far, and yet, after all those achievements the pervasive feeling in my life is this:

I AM NOT ENOUGH. 

I could point to every single one of those accomplishments and give you ten reasons why it wasn’t good enough and how I could have done better. I bet you could do the same for yourself.

The toxic and persistent thoughts in my head tell me if I just achieve that next thing, make a little bit more money, do a little bit better, then finally I will be enough.

When I'm enough, I'll be able to relax and enjoy myself.

The only problem of course is that each time I achieve enough in a day or accomplish the next thing, I'm inherently left with the same pervasive feeling:

I AM NOT ENOUGH. 

So, if it's not about achieving more, what is it about?

How do you find a sense of peace, calm and satisfaction

It starts with repairing the mistaken belief that our value, our worthiness and our lovability comes from what we do.

That may sound lofty, but I am proof that you can reinvent your relationship to yourself and build a foundation of self-love and respect in order to unlock your own personal joy and contentment.

As four year olds, we didn't obsess over what we did each day, we didn't take a daily accounting of how productive we were in order to determine how we felt about ourselves. We played, we slept, we pooped and we cried. Moment to moment, we didn't question our lovability or our worth and neither did I parents or any other sane human being.

At some point this relationship to ourselves changed, we came to believe that we were fundamentally not good enough and we needed to prove that we were each day by doing enough to earn our value, worthiness or lovability. 

You know how this goes on a daily basis. You wake up, start thinking about your day and the things you need to do. You check your email right away and start replying so you can get a quick does of feeling good enough and ahead of the game. You get stressed out when you meet with a client because you want to make sure you did good enough, you try hard before and during and then agonize over what you said or didn't say. You do this at work, you do this with your spouse, you do this with your friends and potential friends.

It's maddening. The best it gets is moments of feeling good usually when you are satisfactorily exhausted and get some good feedback Then you spend the rest of your days chasing that same elusive sense of feeling good.

Your challenge now is to relearn to see yourself the way you see others. The way your four year old self would see you.

Practice loving yourself for who you are not what you do. 

It’s an easy concept to say, but certainly much harder to master in my experience.

The most important thing I’ve done for myself and for my business over the last few years it to learn to see myself the way others do. To learn to value myself, my ideas, my insights and my gifts.

The degree to which I can value myself is the degree to which I can make a difference in the world.


Here are three actions you can take to build a better relationship with yourself which I guarantee will impact your ability to achieve your goals and live the life you want.

  1. Celebrate your successes, small and large. Even if it feels like you are faking it, go and celebrate yourself when you accomplish something. Some ideas: Take yourself to a great dinner. Buy yourself that cool new toy you’ve been dreaming about. Do your touchdown dance in your living room.
  1. As a daily practice, practice caring for yourself the way you would care for sick child or puppy you were responsible for. Make sure you get adequate food, water, play and rest.
  1. Write a list of your best accomplishments, one for every year you have been alive. Then, I want you to share that list with the you that was half your current age. For example, if you’re 50 years old, I want you to list out 50 of your best accomplishments and then I want you to share it with the 25 year old version of you. What would that 25 year old say to you about the things you have accomplished? Write this down and post it somewhere you can see on a daily basis. Practice relating to yourself everyday the way this younger self would relate to you.

I consider this principle the absolute key to creating fulfilling careers and relationships. As a direct result of practicing these things, I now lead a life where I get to enjoy my work and trust that I'm enough. I perform better because I'm encouraging and empowering to myself. And, I've found true balance with my work and life, because I'm no longer trying to find my worth and value by over working.

 

 

Find Your Stoke In Life

  Many of you have seen me posting cool surfing videos on my facebook page. A year ago I moved to San Francisco and started surfing. I had always wanted to be a surfer. Something about the waves, and the board and the culture had always called me to surfing. Here's one in case you haven't seen them from July 18, 2015 in San Francisco.

This post is about finding your stoke in life. The thing that you want so bad you would do anything to get it. Yes, you do have one. Your stoke exists inside of you and it's the key to unlocking your power and creating the life of your dreams. Read the story below to begin uncovering your stoke.

[video width="320" height="240" mp4="http://stlcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/11743383_10101425606575102_1008297114_n.mp4"][/video]

I arrived to San Francisco in May of 2014 and was out learning to surf by June of that year. For those that aren’t familiar with the Pacific Ocean in Northern California, it’s not exactly known for easy surfing. Not only is the ocean frigid cold (50-60 degrees), it is teaming with great white sharks and has some wicked currents that produce lots of rip tides and dangerous conditions. It also produces some great waves including world class big surfing wave: Mavericks.

If you have ever tried to surf, you will know that there is a whole lot of paddling, falling hard and underwater oxygen-deprived tumbling, especially as a beginner.

After several weeks of getting beat up in my attempts to learn to surf I wasn’t feeling very excited about my goal of becoming a surfer. My surf sessions didn’t really involve much surfing. They looked more like a few hours of paddling upstream until my arms felt like they were going to fall off and then placing myself in a giant cold water washing machine on spin cycle. And if that wasn’t enough punishment, when I got close to catching a wave, I’d lose my balance and slam into the water as the force of the wave held me under water as long as it wanted, over and over and over and over. I'm talking like a 100 times.

I was talking to a good friend, Dave and sharing my turmoils in the water. Dave loves surfing and has been surfing for several years in Chicago on Lake Michigan. Yes there are decent surfing waves in Chicago on Lake Michigan, albeit mostly in the middle of winter, but there are good waves.

Here's him surfing in the winter of 2014-2015 in Chicago:

169862_1733120840624_178954_oDave

 

I was sharing with him some of the frustration of trying to get up on the surfboard and actually surf, when he said something that completely changed the way I approached surfing.

He said: “Dude, You’ve got to find your stoke. The rest will take care of itself.”

Stoke (def): To supply with fuel, to feed abundantly

What he meant was, that I needed to stop worrying about how to surf, how I would get there, how to be good or do the right things. Rather, he said to put my attention on finding the stoke, catching that one magical wave and from there I would be so hooked, so committed that I would have the fuel to keep surfing, thus becoming a surfer.

Up to that point, I had been trying to figure out how to do surfing right, trying really hard, hoping I would figure it out. It wasn’t much fun.

After that conversation, I packed up my board and my wetsuit and headed down to Linda Mar Beach 15 minutes south of San Francisco. Rather than focusing on how much I sucked at surfing, I focused on finding my stoke.

I fell a ton that day and I paddled out to the break so many times that I thought my arms were going to fall off. Just when I was about to quit, I caught my first real wave and rode it all the way to the shore.

There are no words to describe the experience of standing on top of the ocean as you and a wave commune for it’s last 15 seconds of life. That feeling is intense accomplishment, intense presence, timeless joy, ecstacy, inspiring, FREE.

Ever since that day, I’ve been chasing that experience. The call to the experience that was so incredible keeps me going back over and over.

A year later, I can call myself a surfer. I’m catching bigger waves, learning to go left and go right and then back again. I’m in excellent shape from surfing and find it to be one of my greatest joys and coolest accomplishments in life.

There are so many metaphors for life that surfing offers, but I believe this whole part about “finding your stoke” is the best one. And, it perfectly aligns with my philosophy on achieving goals and living a fulfilling life.

As a life coach, I help people get from where they are to where they want to go. For most people, they come to me with goals like: making more money, losing weight, getting married.

While all of these goals sound good in theory, when you think about what it will take to get there, you likely aren’t that excited about going after the goal. When you aren’t excited about going after something, how powerful do you think you will be in achieving it. However, when you are totally stoked about what you are going after, the future you are living into, how powerful will you be in going after that?

In fact, I bet if you look at the major things you’ve accomplished, there was something that drew you very powerfully toward the outcome. Something that got you stoked. On the contrary when you think about traditional goals, they typically conjure up images that aren’t so appetizing.

  • When you think making more money, you think more work, more discipline and less joy.
  • When you think losing weight, you think early morning exercise, starving yourself and giving up foods that you love.
  • When you think marriage, you think loss of freedom, fear of failing and any other past fears from relationships.

These aren’t the things you actually want, just like me becoming a surfer wasn’t what I actually wanted. What I actually wanted was to experience joy, intense presence and to feel alive. Surfing happened to be the thing that provided that opportunity.

Find your stoke by looking at the experience you are hoping those goals will provide.

  • How will you feel when you lose weight?
  • What’s the experience making more money will provide you?
  • What are you yearning to feel in your heart with your lifelong romantic partner?

These are the stokes of our lives. When you connect to the thing you really, really want (the stoke) you are more than halfway to where you want to go. Your stoke calls you forward, it makes the uncomfortable parts tolerable because you know they are in service of something greater. Finding your stoke gives you the power to push through those times when you get scared, when you get bored and when you’ve lost your motivation.

Everyone has an experience they want to have in their career, romantic relationship and with themselves… Your job is to uncover it and go after the stoke.

Here’s where I suggest you start in finding your stoke:

Write down the experience you are yearning to have in the these major areas of leading a fulfilling life: Career, Romantic Relationship, Well Being.

Here are some suggestions to get started:

Career:

  • Write down a few of your dream jobs or positions? If you are a business owner, write down where you would like to have your business a year from today, how much money, time off, etc.?
  • Now, ask yourself the question: If you got that job or created that in your business, what would you be experiencing? How would you feel? What would you be inspired by?

 

Romantic Relationship:

  • Most people start with: I want to be married, engaged or dating someone, or if you are in a relationship I want to improve my marriage, less fighting, etc. None of these are what you actually want. You want the experience you think this will provide.
  • Instead, ask yourself: What is the experience I want to have of myself and with another person in a romantic relationship? You can answer this question whether you are in a relationship or not.

 

Well Being:

  • Likely you will start with: I want to lose weight, or get in shape, or lost this spare tire. This isn’t what you want, what you really want is the experience you think this will provide.
  • Ask yourself: What’s the experience that I want to have in my relationship to myself? How do I want to see myself? Who am I committed to being for myself in realtionship?

Once you have done this, use the experience you want to create and think about what kind of goals you could set to help you realize that vision.

If you get stuck, reach out to me for a free individual workshop. I would love to help you uncover your stoke.

Rodney Surfing in Maui